Wednesday, 22 November 2017

We have had some seal pups hauling out on the beaches at Wellmouth and Burnmouth Harbour (just after you come down the stone steps about half a mile along the coastal path from the village end). This will no doubt happen more often as the breeding season progresses. Grey seal pups are left to fend for themselves at 15-21 days old, their mothers going off to mate and to feed (they don't feed whilst suckling, and can lose half their body weight). The pups, which have tripled ...their weight from 15kg at birth to 45kg at weaning, have some reserves to keep them going, but they are not taught how to find prey, they have to work out how to do this themselves. After weaning they also moult their fluffy white coats. As you can imagine this is all pretty exhausting for the pups and so they spend a lot of time hauled out on beaches trying to conserve their energy. When you take into account that only 50% of pups will survive their first winter, it is really important that they are not put under any more stress than they already have to deal with.

Last weekend, I received a couple of phone calls from distressed individuals who had witnessed fellow visitors to the reserve going right up to seals hauled out on these beaches and taking selfies with the pups. Just imagine the effect this will have on the pups' stress levels. And/or it could result in the pups leaving those beaches altogether (they certainly have not been there since Monday). Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to man the site all the time to explain to people the effects that their behaviour could be having. We have put up signs, but people often ignore these. So please help us where you can - if you see people disturbing seals in this way, either on the reserve or elsewhere, please explain to the people disturbing them the effects their behaviour might have. Seals are protected under the Marine Scotland Act 2010, an it is against the law to knowingly disturb them. Also, point them in the direction of Petticowick beach, where there is all sorts of seal behaviour to watch - from a safe distance.

Here is our seal Code of Conduct for the reserve - please share far and wide. Let's all enjoy this wonderful wildlife spectacle - but in a responsible way!

Many thanks for your help. Liza.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I have had word that we have secured funding to enable us to carry out work on the footpath down to Starney Beach in order to get this re-opened. We had to close it a few years ago due to serial landslips above the path. Last autumn we carried out some drainage work in the hopes of preventing further slipping. This seems to have been successful so far, and the areas where the slips occurred have vegetated over pretty well, which helps the stabilise the whole area. However..., we won't be taking any chances, we intend to re-route the path slightly so that it doesn't pass below the area where the most slips have happened. We apologise for the fact that this path has and will be closed for so long, but we take our duty of care for the safety of our visitors very seriously, and we want to make sure that everything has stablilised before we open it to the public again. The plan is to carry out the work in the winter of 2018/19. The work on just this short length of path will cost about £30k which is being paid for by our Footpath Fund. If you enjoy walking at St Abb's Head and other countryside footpaths on NTS land, why not consider supporting this fund. Liza.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A nice wee piece from the Berwickshire News about the Community Action event on the reserve last weekend. Liza

Monday, 11 September 2017

Despite the spells of rain and high winds there were plenty of butterflies out around the Mire Loch this morning. Peacocks were probably the most common species present, along with Red Admiral, a single Small Copper and Wall Brown also made an appearance, while 3 Speckled Woods were seen near the Mire Loch dam. Many of the Red Admirals were seen feeding on the bramble berries which are out in abundance around the loch. Fruits like this are an important food source at this time of year when many flowers are finished, and no longer providing nectar.  Lizy

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta feeding on bramble berry

Sunday, 10 September 2017

We had another good, if slightly wet and windswept, day up at the old lighthouse signal station today as we continued our archaeological dig with National Trust for Scotland archaeologist Daniel Rhodes. We finished excavating the last bits of the trench from yesterday, and mapped everything we found, before filling in the trench. We also had a good chat with some of the hardy visitors who had braved the weather. Below you can see the trench as it looked at the end of the excavation and after we filled it in and replaced the turfs. You would hardly know we were there! Lizy

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Assistant Ranger Zander and I had a fabulous day yesterday, checking for bats around the reserve with ecologist Lindsay Mackinlay from Parnassus Ecology. We found several bat boxes containing bats, including pipistrelles and this roost of 11 Daubenton's bats. Lindsay also checked the roofs of our buildings and found bats in both of them, which is great news. It is illegal to disturb bat roosts (Lindsay has a license which permits him to carry out these sort of checks) so if do suspect you have bats in a box or in your roof it best to leave well alone. However if you do have bats in a building and you need to carry out some work, you can contact Scottish Natural Heritage who can give you information on how to do this with minimal disturbance to the bats. For more information see the Bat Conservation Trust: and

Daubenton's bats in bat box

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

An excellent article by our Head of Natural Heritage Policy, Stuart Brooks.  Definitely worth a couple of minutes of your time. Liza.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Nearly all of the seabirds have fledged from the cliffs here, with just one or two late shag nests, and a few fulmar chicks, which are the latest nesting of our seabirds species. In the pictures below you can see a picture of a massive fluffy chick from 4 weeks ago, and a picture of a chick ready to fledge, which I took yesterday. In the second picture you can see all of the baby fluff scattered around the nest with the chick preening it's mostly adult feathers. Once these chicks have fledged that will truly be the end of the seabird season here at St Abb's Head. Lizy

Young Fulmar chick at the beginning of August

Older fulmar chick at the end of August, ready to fledge

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Sunshine and showers on the head today, unpredictable weather for working outside in, but makes for interesting scenery. Lizy Smith

Double rainbow seen from foghorn

Monday, 7 August 2017

Thank you to all of the people who came out on our whale and dolphin watch yesterday. Although the marine mammals were rather scarce, there were excellent views of a beautiful leucistic/ albino kittiwake on the cliffs just below the watch. In the picture you can see the all-white bird with pink feet, next to both adult kittiwakes, and juvenile birds ready to fledge (with the black collar around the back of their necks). Unfortunately just as we were packing up at the end of the watch, a comotion was spotted out to sea, which turned out to be a great skua which had caught the white kittiwake and was drowning it. Sadly although the kittiwake put up a good fight in the end the skua won, and began to eat it. This is sad, but perhaps not unexpected. Even to the human eye the kittiwake was very noticeable, and so probably made an obvious target for the bonxie. Also leucistic birds can have weakened feathers, which could have affected the birds flight, and if it was an albino it may have had poor eyesight. Sadly this was probably a case of natural selection in action. To learn more, check out this website from the British Trust for Ornithology, where you can also report any birds with unusual plumage you see in your garden :     Lizy

White kittiwake on cliffs with other kittiwakes

Great skua next to the corpse of the white kittiwake it has just drowned

Monday, 31 July 2017

Happy #WorldRangerDay everybody.  Today is the day when we celebrate the vital work that Rangers across the world do to protect the environment, and commemorate Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty.  Here at St Abb’s Head we do a lot of important work protecting valuable habitats, and the wildlife that lives here.  From removing invasive species from our flower-rich grasslands, to counting the various bird and butterflies that make this place their home, to talking to the public to spread knowledge of how they can enjoy and protect the world around them, we are always busy working to preserve the places we love.

Seabird Monitoring

Attending public events

Controlling Gorse

Saturday, 29 July 2017

We had a lovely afternoon at St Abbs Lifeboat Gala today - Zander and I were joined by Jack, Ernie and Jean who helped us man our stall. It was a tad breezy, but the sun shone most of the day, so we were not complaining. If you missed us today, why not come and see us at Coldingham Gala tomorrow! Liza.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Last week St Abbs was a venue for the Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail, with a band playing in The Old Smiddy Coffee Shop next door to our Nature Centre. The Feis Rois Ceilidh Trail is a professional development opportunity for outstanding young musicians who are considering a performance career in music. After being selected through an audition process, the young musicians are taken on tour across Scotland for four weeks through the summer. Part of the tour involves visiting National Nature Reserves, so that is why they came to St Abbs.

Here's couple of shots taken by one of our volunteers, Margaret Renstead, who also works in the coffee shop. And here's a link to the Feis Rois website in case you want to catch them elsehwere on their Trail…


Monday, 24 July 2017

Last week Rangers from various different locations all over West, Mid and East Lothian and the Scottish Borders came to visit St Abb's Head. About three times a year representatives from the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association (SCRA) organise a site visit somewhere in the region, and this time it was our turn. These meets are a brilliant way to network, share good (and bad) practice and find out what other rangers are up to. I'm pleased to say the weather was stunning, so they could see the reserve at its best. It made sitting on the bantry at Eyemouth eating fish and chips and ice cream a very pleasureable way to end the day!. Liza.

Our team here at St Abb's Head had a nice start to last week when we had a day of vegetation training with ecologist Lindsay Mackinlay. Volunteers Zander, Margaret, Jack and Jean came along for a whole day of learning how to identify some of the flowers and grasses growing on the reserve. It was a very educational day, but also fun for everyone involved, and we all had a great time wandering around in the flower rich grassland in the sunshine. Thanks to everyone who came along and made the day so enjoyable. Lizy

Saturday, 22 July 2017

If you're planning on visiting Eyemouth tomorrow to enjoy the Herring Queen festivities, then you can come and visit us in the Eyemouth Hippodrome, from 10am - 4pm. We'll have some tables with lots of information, activities for children, and lovely, helpful people to answer any questions you might have about the reserve or our wildlife. Hope to see you there! Lizy

Our table at the St Abb's Science Day 2016

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sad news - I went to check on the progress of the gannet chick yesterday, and the nest was deserted - no adult and no chick to be seen. Who knows what caused it to fail - I suspect it was possibly a first time breeder as it started very late in the season. I have no doubt that they will try again next year, and possibly earlier in the season. Only time will tell. Liza.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

It was a good day on the butterfly transect today here at St Abb's Head. Species spotted included Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Copper, Small Skipper, Common Blue, Grayling, Northern Brown Argus, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Dark Green Fritillary (pictured). We carry out our butterfly transect once a week, and it takes over 2 hours to complete on a sunny day when there are lots of butterflies! We have been monitoring the butterflies here for over 30 years and this kind of data is vital for scientists to learn more about the long term trends for butterfly populations. If you'd like to contribute to butterfly conservation then don't worry, you don't need to spend two hours a week for 30 years! The Big Butterfly Count is taking place from the 14th of July to the 6th of August, and they're asking you to spend just 15 minutes sitting somewhere such as a garden or a park and recording any butterflies you spot.  Head over to to find out more. Lizy

Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Have you noticed anything different about the lighthouse in the last week or so? I received a call yesterday from a guy from the the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB), who rang to to chat about parking arrnagements for maintenance contractors that will be coming up to work at the lighthouse next week.
Just in passing he mentioned that some contractors had be up there recently to shroud the lantern and replace it with small LED unit. The big old lantern, still sitting in a b...ath of mercury, has too many working parts to maintain it seems, and it is cheaper and more reliable to have an LED that flashes on and off. So the constantly turning lantern has been brought to a stop, and curtains have been placed around it so that it does not cause a fire by concentrating the sun's rays in one fixed spot on the headland.

I was amazed that I hadn't noticed any change, and a little bit saddened to think that we wouldn't be able to see those beautiful lenses constantly turning any more. I was also surprised that the shrouding hadn't been done with a little more ceremony. In my mind its a pretty notable event in the lighthouse's history, but I guess its more of a day to day operational change for the NLB. But there we are - its done.

Here are a couple of pictures I took today of the shrouded lantern with the new LED unit in front of it. Also picture I took of the lantern in the gloaming a couple of weeks back, and some pics I took a few years ago, when I was lucky enough to get inside the lantern room and see those magnificent lenses close up. Liza.

Friday, 14 July 2017

When I shared the news of our first ever gannet chick folk at seabird colonies from Blackeney Point to Troup Head via the East Coast Seabird Network, I got the following interesting information from the folk at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

The gannet colony there continues to expand. Where gannets and guillemots intereact, the gannets win battles for space for nest sites causing the loss of guillemot eggs and chicks. There have been one or two occasions where gannets have b...een seen to stand over or apparently brood guillemot chicks (as in the picture) but these chicks do not survive. However, news hot off the press, this year's counts show that the numbers of guillemots are also increasing. So it seems, if there are enough alternative nesting areas for the guillemots in the area, they move into them.

As you may know, numbers of kittiwakes at St Abb's Head have decreased by 85% over the last 25 years or so. Whilst this is a tragedy in itself, and although kittiwakes and guillemots do utilise different areas of cliff, it does mean that there may be some areas where kittiwakes used to nest that can be colonised by guillemots ousted by gannets. Only time will tell, however. We most certainly live in interesting times! Liza.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

We have some amazing news  - the first ever gannet chick to hatch out at St Abb's Head was spotted by Zander, our Assitant Ranger, the other day.

Up until last spring there had only been three occasions in the last 30 years or so when gannets had been seen settling down on the cliffs at St Abb’s Head.  In late May 2016, a number of birds started prospecting one of the large seabird stacks (Foul Carr) with a few settling onto the stack and pairing up, looking like they were getting ready to breed.  One pair even brought in nesting material which, but nothing came of it.

This year, the prospecting birds came earlier and in larger numbers, with around 70 gannets scouting out the same stack, and with many pairs settling on the stack and performing courtship displays.  However, as with last year, after a short flurry of activity most of the birds left, leaving just three pairs of birds which have been sitting tight since then.

The sighting of an egg, at the beginning of June, was a first in itself, and we have been watching and waiting with baited breath to see if anything would come of it.

It was such a momentous record that when Zander spotted it he called me and I went up to verify the sighting.  Gannet chicks are naked when they hatch, so the adults sit pretty tight on them to keep them warm until they develop insulating down.  So it was a nail biting hour and half, a during which we were only getting the briefest of glimpses of something in the nest, before I was able to get a good enough view to confirm that it was definitely a chick and Zander wasn’t just seeing things!  Its also been tricky getting a photo of the small chick - but Zander did manage to snatch this shot when the adult stood up to stretch.  No doubt we will get more once the chick gets a bit bigger and grows down.

With Bass Rock, the world’s largest breeding colony of gannets just a few miles up the coast, full to capacity, it was only a matter of time before gannets started checking out the cliffs at St Abb’s Head for suitable nest sites.  Gannets are stunning birds to behold and there has been a palpable air of excitement surrounding their presence here at St Abb’s Head over the last couple of years.  However, we do have slightly mixed feelings about them taking up residence at St Abb's Head.  Over the last 20 years seabird numbers at St Abb’s Head have declined from 80,000 to just under 45,000 birds, reflecting UK wide declines.  The only species that have maintained their numbers have been guillemots and razorbills.  The stack on which the gannets have chosen to breed is a favoured breeding area for guillemots, so I fear that as gannet numbers increase, as they are bound to, the guillemots will be pushed out.  This feels very much like a pivotal moment for the seabird colony at St Abb’s Head, and only time will tell what will happen in the years to come.


Monday, 10 July 2017

Thanks very much to the National Trust for Scotland's Lothian conservation volunteer group who came out on Saturday to help us control creeping thistle on the reserve. In the morning we went up onto Kirk Hill to cut down some of the thistles growing around one of our most important archaeological sites; St Aebba's Kirk, and in the afternoon we cleared the headland above the lighthouse road. It was very heartening to see the difference between the two sites. The thistles on top of Kirk Hill were large and very numerous, as they have not been controlled for many years, whereas the thistles on the headland were much smaller and less dense, having been controlled every year for several years. This is much better for the valuable plant species which would otherwise be crowded out by the thistles. Thanks again to everyone who came along and helped out, your enthusiasm and hard work is much appreciated!  Lizy

Thistle whacking on top of Kirk Hill

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

I came across a linnet having a bath in a wee burn today. It was there for quite some time splashing about, long enough for me to enable me to take this shot, I'm pleased to say. They are very smart wee birds that you might see, but more likely hear, twittering around the grasslands of the reserve, especially in amongst the gorse around the Mire Loch. They have a lovely song, which is what made them popular cage birds in the past. Liza.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

We had a great day yesterday on our annual ragwort pulling session on Kirk Hill. Volunteers Jean and Ernie helped us pull 18 sacks of ragwort from the exclosure. This might sound like a lot, but it used to take several mornings of work, and several enormous helicopter bags to get the whole area cleared, so it looks like our persistence over many years is paying off! Lizy

Jean and Ernie pulling ragwort

Thursday, 15 June 2017

I was out early this morning doing a bird survey around the Mire Loch, and was very lucky to spot this rather bedraggled looking Badger by the boardwalk! There are always plenty of Badger signs, like snuffle holes and latrines, around the Mire Loch, and if you take a walk at dusk you can often see them emerging from the thick banks of gorse where they conceal their setts. But it's very unusual to get a good look at one in full daylight, never mind a picture, so the early start was definitely worth it! Lizy

Badger Meles meles

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Here's a wee video I took of shags croaking in Piper's Cave - not the best footage you've ever seen (videoing blackish birds in the dark is tricky!) but its not often you get to hear them!

Lizy and I took our wee inflatable boat out yesterday afternoon in order to complete the whole colony count for shags and herring gulls; counting those birds that cannot be seen from land. It was perfect conditions for counting - flat calm and overcast, and we were just 5 minutes from finishing round at Petticowick when it started to absolutely bucket it down with rain. Hoping that such a downpour wouldn't last for long, we decided to hang around for a while, but we were wrong! After about half an hour, we were getting really quite cold and there was still no sign of it stopping so we had to admit defeat and head back for the harbour. I've never been out on the sea in those conditions before - every little ripple in the already flat calm sea was ironed out by the shear weight of the rain, and a mist formed over the surface where the rain drops were bouncing back up into the air. Stunning - but far to wet to chance getting a camera out. Here are a few other shots I took though. Liza.
The entrance to Piper's Cave - just to the west of Kirk Hill - a favourite nesting place for shags. Very undisturbed as you can't get into it unless you have a tiny wee boat like ours!

Inside Piper's Cave - its cold, and dark, and there are strange noises echoing around. But once your eyes get adjusted to the dark - its only the shags croaking away. There were 10 pairs in there this year.

Looking back out from the cave.

We hoped a view from the sea would give us a better idea of what was going on with the gannets on Foul Carr. Only one nest can be seen from land (the end of Nunnery Point), but we have regularly seen two other gannet's heads in amongst the sea of guillemots, and they are always in the same place. So we suspected that there were at least three nests - and I reckon we were right, although you can't actually see the nests under the higher two birds from sea level. I wonder if we will see the first ever gannet chicks at St Abb's Head this year?

Monday, 12 June 2017

I spotted this Brown Hare as I was walking along the track to our office yesterday. Although it is the UK's fastest land mammal, capable of reaching sppeds of up to 45 miles an hour, instead of running away it decided to lie low and hide in the long grass until I had passed by. Lizy

Brown Hare Lepus europaeus

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Today I spotted the first Northern Brown Argus of the year that I've seen here at St Abb's Head. This sighting is two weeks later than the first individual was recorded last year, maybe unsurprising given the terrible weather we've had lately! The best place to look for this tiny butterfly is around the dam at the south end of the Mire Loch. Other butterflies spotted today were Red Admiral and Wall Brown, along with day flying moth species Silver-ground Carpet and Chimney Sweeper. Lizy

Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Although the seabird season spans from late March until August, June is the month where everything really kicks off. One of the main reasons why seabirds breed in colonies is safety in numbers - lots of eyes looking out for predators, voices to shout an alarm and beaks to fight them off. So the birds synchronise their timings with June being the main chick season. This means that it is also th...e busiest month for us Rangers monitoring the seabirds.

In june we count how many seabirds have settled down to breed in that year. This involves us painstakingly scouring the whole 5.5km of cliffs and recording all the breeding birds we see. We do this from vantage points on the clifftops and from a boat, and we do two rounds - one in early June for herring gulls and shags, and one in mid June for kittiwakes and fulmars. We don't do a full count of our auks (guillemots and razorbills) each year - with 35,000 of them, we just don't have the resources, so we only do this every 5 years. Instead we have a series of smaller plots which we count 10 times in the month, and take the average of the counts to give us an indication of the number of auks that are settling down to breed. On top of this we also monitor the breeding success of shags, guillemots and kittiwakes, which involves following the progress of a number of birds on a series of plots from setting up territory to the young fledging from the nest.

So, why do we do this? Becuase it gives us an indication of whether the seabirds are doing well or not so well, and if the latter, we know that we need to try and find out why. The data that we gather at St Abb's Head feeds into National Seabird Monitoring Programme (we're one of about 20 sites in Scotland) and so helps to inform National and International seabird conservation. So seabird monitoring is, arguably, THE most important work that we do.

In order to make sure that counts are comparable between years and between sites, we have to stick to a strict protocol which states that the counts can only be carried out between 8am and 4pm, when its not raining hard and when the wind is below 15 knots. And then, on ocassion, we have the haar to contend with too! So, with the weather that we have been experiencing so far in June, you can imagine, its been a tricky task! We will bring you the results of this year's monitoring once we have drawn together the data later in the season. Liza.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

A local resident reported seeing someone flying a drone along beside the cliffs at Petticowick on Thursday night. It was causing great disturbance to the nesting seabirds on the cliffs in the area. I hope that the pilot was not aware that he was breaking the law on two counts - firstly by flying the drone over NTS land without our permission, and secondly by causing disturbance to nesting birds.

With drones now being readily available at a resonable price on the High Street..., their use over St Abb's Head and other NTS land by uninformed individuals is becoming more common. This is why the NTS has produced a policy concerned the flying of drones on or over our land. 
St Abb's Head is a place where people come to get away from it all and enjoy nature in the raw, so we are very reluctant to bring too many man-made items, like signs, onto the reserve. We have tried hard to spread the NTS policy on drones via Social Media, but it is apparent that the message just isn't getting out to all the right people, so we are, reluctantly, having to put up signs in order to make sure that drone owners are informed about our policy and the law.

We have not gone down the line of a blanket ban, as others have, because there is no doubt that drone images are spectacular, giving a totally different perspective. Also, there are ways that drones might be useful in our conservation management of the property. However, the reserve is a no drone zone during the bird nesting season, and outwith this we require poeple to get permission from the Property Manager (ie me) first. In this way we can ensure that we keep both our wildlife and our visitors safe and free from disturbance.

Here's a copy of the signs that will be going up this weekend. Please help us protect our nesting birds from disturbance by sharing this. Thank you. Liza.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Up on the cliffs this morning checking out the seabirds. I haven't spotted our first kittiwake egg yet, but there's certainly lots going on up there. As it wasn't too windy, I took a few short videos with my camera just to give you the gist. Please excuse the camera shake! Liza.

The kittiwakes are busy nest building.  They collect mud and grass from wet flush areas on the sea braes, and take this back to the nest site (being guarded by their partner) a beak full at a time.  We have had hardly any rain since the start of April (just 16.5mm to be precise) so there is a bit of a shortage of wet flushes.  Let's hope this doesn't effect their breeding success.

Some kittiwakes are lucky enough to secure nest sites where there is the remains of a nest from previous years that just needs adding to.  But some have to start virtually from scratch.  One bird brings back the nesting material, and then the other stamps it into place and then shapes it into a cup shape by pressing its chest against the edges.  Its mucky work as you can see!

There are not so many gannets on and around Foul Carr now - but a few remain sitting on the stack and there are still a number prospecting, as you can see.  We are waiting with baited breath to see if any of them start bringing in nesting material (one pair did last year, but nothing came of it).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A group of students from Eyemouth High School came and had a session with our Archaeologist, Daniel Rhodes, at the Ebba Centre yesterday as part of the the School Enrichment Programme that we here at St Abb's Head are taking part in. They were dicsovering what archaeology is all about, and why its important, and got to try out some hands on activities themselves. Next week, Daniel will take them out and about on the reserve to discover more on the ground. Liza.

Bob, the skeleton, helped the kids discover more about the detective work required when discovering archaeological finds.
The amazing uses that a deer carcass can be put to - nothing wasted!
Pottery analysis - the kids had a go at taking all the measurements that are needed to try and work out the age and uses of shards of pottery found in digs.
Learning about how looking at maps going back through the ages can tell you a lots about the history of an area.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Gannets have arrived back at St Abb's Head this year, and they look like they might be settling down to stay. As far as we know there are no breeding records for Gannets here, so there was great excitement last year when about 8 birds began to sit around on Foul Carr, near to the lighthouse, with one pair even starting to build a nest. Nothing came of this nesting attempt, but after visiting Foul Carr yesterday, following a tip-off from a volunteer, I was surprised to find at least 52 birds sat on top of the stack with more circling around the air above. Many of the pairs were performing courtship behaviours, like the pair you can see in the first picture with their bills raised to the sky. Some of the other residents of the stack were not entirely happy with their new neighbours, the Herring Gull in the second picture repeatedly dive-bombed the offending Gannet until it was finally driven off.  Only time will tell if they will be here to stay, we will keep you posted on further developments.  Lizy

Gannets, Morus bassanus, displaying on top of Foul Carr, surrounded by Guillemots, Uria aalge

Gannet, Morus bassanus, being attacked by a Herring Gull, Larus argentatus